Lewes Bonfire Night 2014 - what’s on


- Credit: Archant

Lewes Bonfire Night is the biggest 5 November event in the United Kingdom. We take a look at what’s happening this year

The carnival or festival is known as either the Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations, Lewes Bonfire Night or simply the Fifth. It is the biggest Bonfire Night celebration left of its kind in the UK. This year it will take place on Wednesday 5 November.

Wrap up warm in old waterproof clothes (ignore the weather forecast, for as the website lewesbonfirecelebrations.com says, “it is better to be too dry and too warm than, soggy, wet and cold.”) Bring plenty of money for the Lewes Bonfire charity collection boxes and be prepared for heavy crowds, loud noises and lots of smoke.

The celebrations take the form of a series of torchlit processions through the town. The event is organised by the local bonfire societies, under the auspices of the Lewes Bonfire Council. Lewes itself currently has seven bonfire societies and a number of nearby towns also have their own. The other five local bonfire societies from the town, Cliffe, Borough, Commercial Square, South Street and Waterloo each proceed on their own route accompanied by a number of other societies from neighbouring towns.

Each bonfire society has its own traditional costumes (ranging from Tudor dress to Mongol warriors), and a number of large effigies are drawn though the streets.

To mark the demise of the 17 martyrs, 17 burning crosses are carried through the town, and a wreath-laying ceremony occurs at the War Memorial in the centre of town. A flaming tar barrel is also thrown into the River Ouse; this is said to symbolise the throwing of the magistrates into the river after they read the Riot Act to the bonfire boys in 1847, but may also be an echo of Samhain traditions. The festivities culminate in five separate bonfire displays, where the effigies are destroyed by firework and flame. Up to 80,000 people have been known to attend this local spectacle, coming from all over the south and sometimes further afield.

These celebrations are both jubilant and raucous, and as such are not for the faint-hearted – they are not really suitable for small children.

If you live in the area and would like to celebrate Bonfire Night without all the merry pandemonium, we’ve compiled a list of other fantastic options across the county:

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• Lindfield, 5 November

• Icklesham, 5 November

• Chailey Bonfire Night, 8 November

• South Heighton, 8 November

• East Hoathly, 8 November

• Shoreham, 8 November

• Rye, 8 November

• Edenbridge, 8 November

• Isfield, 14 November

• Robertsbridge, 15 November

• Barcombe, 22 November

• Hawkhurst, 22 November


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